Power to The People

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I’m in the VIP section of the Bar Enclave, a popular hangout for writers and the like in Lagos. having arrived early for a meeting, I’m trying to fill in the time by jotting down a few words. I happen to be in a Kanye West mood, so the remix to  “Power” is playing via my earphones to drown out the unintelligible nonsense they are playing on Z World on the large screen television directly facing my seating position. I’m thinking about Nigeria, and why the country, in spite of having so many citizens, and so many brilliant people, eminent and luminous intellectuals, has its citizens suffer and languish in abject poverty. My ruminations are interrupted by the cries of “Oh, Nepa” as the power supply is interrupted, and a few minutes later we are granted respite from the stifling heat, as the power generators kick in and light floods the hall.

**POWER TO THE PEOPLE**

Despite the impressive amount of intellectuals and thinkers the nation boasts of, why have we as a nation not been able to make headway in our power sector? Is it too much to ask if we demand to have steady, stable, and affordable power supply in the country? Is it a thing of joy or shame that a single airport in another country uses up more power than our whole country generates?

Of all the electoral and campaign promises that elected officials have ever made, why is it that power is almost always never attempted, not to mention fulfilled? And why do we put up with this level of incompetence from our leaders?

The country is in a recession. That is bad, but it is made increasingly worse by the fact that we have to provide our own power for whatever economic activities we engage in so that we can make ends meet. In my prowling on social media, I came across a tweet from an individual on twitter:

“Every evening by seven, I put on a suit, I name myself minister of power, and then I bend down and start my gen.”

It sounds like a joke, and im betting it got more than a few people amused, but that is one of the most damaging statements any one can make, in a country like Nigeria.

Nigeria’s electricity generating system is a waste, a bloody shame. Which forward thinking country, in the 21st century, has an electricity generating system that is based on hydroelectric power from a dam that has had no maintenance carried out on it in  years? And somehow, the apologists and supporters of the government have the guts to put on their phones that are powered by generators and make long winded and enthusiastic posts about how government is working, while in reality the only thing working is the sound of their phones as they receive alerts from bank accounts fed fat by the resources of the people. Why do our leaders receive fat salaries for doing nothing? Why do we, the people not demand more of them?

I’m sitting back now and trying to think. If all the telecommunications companies were to reduce by half, or eliminate in entirety, the fantastic amounts they spend on importing petrol and diesel to power their masts, base stations, and transmission stations, and add it to their profit, what would be the impact? Would it not significantly drive down the costs of telecommunications, including calls, texts, and of course, dear reader, the data you are using up to read this piece? If Atorise, the barber by the roadside, were to remove or reduce the ten thousand naira he spends on fuel on a weekly basis, and add it back to the twenty five or so thousand naira he makes from his barbershop per week, would it not directly translate to a better standard of living for him and his family?

I dimly recall, sometime after the inauguration of the present administration, an individual made the following post on facebook:

“Dem just dey wash beans, moin-moin don de smell. Since president Buhari took over, power supply has improved! We now have light twelve to fourteen hours a day!”

**NO ONE MAN CAN HAVE ALL THAT POWER**

I had to politely remind him that our country’s electricity generating system was hydro electric and as such was dependent on seasonal fluctuations, meaning that power supply would increase in the rainy season due to the higher levels at Kainji Dam, and drop to a shameful low in the dry season. I told him to come singing the same song in the dry season, and I would provide backing vocals, and even take the lead. I haven’t heard from him since. The most disgusting part is that we do not realize that the so called “anti corruption crusade” and the war against corruption” is an elitist plot. No single individual can eliminate the corruption that has been said to have engulfed the country. I dare say the corruption will be less of a problem if the officials and government fix the things they are meant to. The acclaimed war does not impact in any way on the life of the common man. Abi, how you see am? I will be back with more thoughts on this but first, tell me what you think.

 

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